They said, keep the blinds drawn, what we have to say, isn’t good
they lay her down on a white sheet and beneath, the hammered metal hummed
the bulb in the middle of the room, behind linoleum, sung a hissing song
their white-coated pluck and scratch, indifferent and sterile, she was just, flesh and blood
another in a long line of patients who, largely were forgotten, consumed by a machine, uncaring of individual
she could feel the dried corners of her eyes crack, as she looked left and right
someone once told her, adult survivors of abuse, find it hard to relax
they are always looking for what is crawling out of cupboards
she didn’t want her past to run her future, but now it seemed, her future was in doubt
never before had she felt so alone
the petty bravery of moving countries, seemed a facile thing, for children who didn’t yet know, true terror
surely it is easy to be brave when you have no war, and are just posting letters
she lived like that for so long, running from childhood’s sadness, enjoying the wide open space of adulthood
thinking she had all the time in the world, surely growing older was for another life
it wasn’t entirely selfish, she did her part, but there was always the tendency to want to make up for the past, by living without a care
and then it was no longer that way
impossible to ignore, unable to let go of, she was swiftly consumed and irrevocably changed
even if tomorrow the cloud lifted, she would never walk as lightly as she used to
the power of naivety, ignorance is surely, our dearest friend
now her heart beat fast all the time, unable to still, the surge of emotions inside
she was a rabbit in her burrow, smelling fox
she was no longer the quick silver of a girl, without terrible knowledge
days were unbearably long, and serious, like the frown on an old man’s face
they spoke of compromise, a series of steps, faltering and bursting apart and trying over
it was as if all of her was removed and pummelled into earth and made to rise again
never was it more silent, never did she wish for the phone to ring and something to let her out of the nasty trap with jagged mouth
words are just words, she could have said; I am strong, I am going to fight, but in the next breath she may
simply not be able
and that lack of, that inability, like a prison, or a sudden dismemberment, was, a kind of horror she’d never been creative enough to imagine
like being stolen from yourself, and hearing in the distance, the sound of children dancing
to your favorite song
if life is indeed a battle, she thought, this is where I need to buckle down
put aside my tendency to want to climb out of the window and skip the lesson
stifle the longing to run fast, in the opposite direction
everything so far, had brought her to this point, it wasn’t what she’d imagined
instead, she’d hoped by now, she’d have found her groove, begun as humans tend, to build her fortress
it wasn’t time yet, it wasn’t nearly time yet
and all the days she’d squandered, thinking there would be more
all the long drawn out machinations, to position herself and be ‘responsible’
denying the lustre of living
she’d put off joy so many times, in favor of ‘sensible choices’
where were those now? She berated herself for not having taken
more vacation, more experiences, that glass of wine, danced on that table top
she worked for a future, she may never get to experience, sure she felt bitter, angry at her lack of insight
though most believe, we’re never ready for bad news or, the fall of favor
we think we predict worst case scenario but that’s only an anxious mind
seeking to control the uncontrollable and unknown
nothing prepares you for a premature curtain fall
nothing shores you up to deal with catastrophe
we muddle through or we give up
those are the only two ways we journey
when the wet-ass hour comes tolling
she felt a grief for her bad choices and wished, like others she could have no regrets
it is hard not to regret when you’re cut off from everything
difficult to look forward when the present is biting at your ankles
she wasn’t one to pray for herself
but she did now
she prayed for the strength she felt she didn’t have
she prayed not to feel so isolated
cried thinking of how many before her, went through this darkness alone, their hearts aching to be cared for
she was a little girl again, looking for her mother beneath furniture
seeing her in album covers and from the top of buses
that woman had her mother’s eyes, large and dark
that lady’s figure is slim and reedy like her mother’s was
at night she wanted to feel the way she imagined a child does
put to bed and told, everything is well, you are safe
if she’d had children, she’d be saying it to them now
but life threw her a curve-ball and she ended up reproducing only
empty rooms collecting dust
perhaps it was for the best, now that she’d sunk so low
for how could she care for anyone, when she could not for herself?
if everything has a reason, she wasn’t sure of this
to teach her gratitude? To punish her for lassitude?
if there was a God she hoped, somehow to end her suffering, even by means of eternal sleep
but she felt bad for praying when so many, suffered far worse than her, and how they coped, she did not know
only that she had to try each day to keep going, in what direction was unclear
she wasn’t sure of the sign-posts or meaning, it was too easy to let fear, guide her way
so many things needed to change and yet, she was tired, so tired of fighting and being scared
they say those brought up unkindly, learn to be strong
she didn’t feel strong at all, she felt like only a thin wind, kept her from collapsing
and all her plans were thrown in water, watching the ink bleed out, with nothing left to find, but papier-mache
her grandmother once told her, out of nothing you can build, entire universes
she tried now to imagine a place, where she would be restored
where all the things she still had to do, remained possible
surely you can tell when, the end of the record is over and, it’s about to go quiet
she hadn’t been able to, she’d one day been carrying her dancing shoes, across the newly waxed floor, her eyes feverish with anticipation
and the next, swallowed by sickness, left without curative
only the static of a cold room and a script for patience
she’d been spat out of the system, left to flounder by road-side
how different, she thought, from childhood where, we do everything to protect them from fear
sewing toys that will keep them company at night
mobiles to send them to sleep, songs to ward away nightmares
and at some eventual point, we decide they’re ready for the real world
full of savagery and disregard and people who are supposed to help
but are only doing the bare minimum
is it any wonder we flounder, and miss a step?
looking around in wide-eyed fear
mouthing the unasked question
is this what it feels like, to be real?

59 Replies to “Papier-mache”

  1. Sending love. I need to sleep more, but I want to send love and thanks for stirring my brain, for describing me, for…
    Yes. ❤️

  2. Poignantly profound and beautiful, Candice, the bottomless depth of suffering made manifest. All I can do is send you love and healing thoughts. <3

  3. You have always been real, tangible, concrete…. a well constructed piece of beautiful work of life. Unique from all the pains you feel to the ethereal pleasures you swim through that only you convey lowly creatures such as ourselves can but taste of at times. You have a sight unrivaled… beautiful work Little Sister… xx

  4. I can relate entirely to this. I remember my experience of cancer; the way the world was swept away. Is this what it feels like to be real? Yes. And for me, afterwards, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. But god, it was so hard at the time. Best x.

  5. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this and reply with your experience. It helps more than you could ever imagine to share hope and I wish you continued healing and peace.

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